Easter Egg Artistry

By Mary Beth Schwartz

Sixty thousand years ago, artists engraved hatched patterns on eggshells in South Africa. Decorated eggs have been discovered dating to Iron Age II. The House of Fabergé created thousands of elaborate precious metal and gemstone varieties for the Russian Court from 1885 to 1917. And forty years ago, a group of local women with a year-long passion for egg art formed the very first egg club – Eggs Original Club.

Kit Stansbury was teaching ceramics to a group of women at the Firth Youth Center in Phillipsburg. They became interested in ornate Easter Egg decorating, so Kit introduced the group to Kathryn Johnston – an experienced egg artist. Johnson taught them a few basics, including how to put a hinge on a goose egg so that it opened and closed. From then on, the ladies were so engrossed in egging that they formed the very first egg club –
Eggs Original Club.

In 1968, Kit held the very first egg show ever in the world at the Firth Youth Center. “It was such a success she held the show every year. It grew and grew and grew; and then Eggs clubs started popping up in other states,” says Lona Dagutis, Eggs Original Club President and Show Director. Now there are many egg shows across the country including, California, Texas, Illinois, Ohio, Florida and Virginia. “We also have egg shows in Japan and Europe. Kit Stansbury started it all,”
says Dagutis.

Dagutis started egging in the early 1960s when her aunt took a chicken egg and cut an oval in it with cuticle scissors. “I took a cotton ball and cut it in half and made that the floor. Then I took Christmas cards and cut out images and placed them on the cotton ball to create a diorama scene. I decorated it with beads, ric-rac, and sequence, and put a little string on the top and made an ornament,” says Dagutis. From then on she made ornaments and handed them out as gifts. Then she went to the egg show was hooked. “I found out that there are dealers that sell supplies, seminars to attend, teachers who sell instruction sheets. Egging is the love of my life,” Dagutis says.

Over the years, Dagutis has created unique pieces of art from eggs – candy corn quail eggs, a pumpkin duck egg, ornate goose egg pins, finch egg earrings, even a paper tole Christmas ornament with her special touch music box hidden inside. “Egging is so interesting. You can bring into the egg any other craft – hand painting, quilling, diorama, decoupage, toleing, ribbon embroidery. There is probably nothing you cannot do on an egg. It is one challenge after another. We use quail, goose, duck, emu, ostrich, finch, rhea – any type of shell that is available to us. Egg artists use hatcheries for their eggs,” Dagutis says. She assures that no eggs are taken from the wild – that is illegal in the United States.

Eggs Original Club currently has 20 members who meet monthly at the Forks Township Community Center in Easton. Meetings take place the second Tuesday of the month from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. There is a business meeting, bring-your-own-lunch, and then an
egg project. There also is a group meeting on a Saturday for those who have to work during the week. There are no meetings in July or August. Annual club dues are $12. New members are always welcome. Members of Eggs Original Club also can belong to the International Egg Art Guild (IEAG). Every year Eggs Original Club hosts its show and sale. Since 2009 the event has been held at the Forks Township Community Center. 2013 marks the fifth show at Forks Township. “Egging is an art form. We prepare all year for the show. Our eggs are patterned after Faberge’s designs. We make them as elite and beautiful as possible,” says Dagutis. Eggers travel from across the country and the world, to attend the egg show. The event takes place after Easter. “Eggs are not just for Easter – they can be appreciated year round.,”
Dagutis says.

The Fifth Annual Eggs Original Show & Sale takes place April 27 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and April 28 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is $4 for 13 years and older – 12 years and under are free. Attendees will discover an incredible array of decorated eggs from fine artists, including Faberge, traditional, modern, and Ukrainian Pysanky styles. There also will be miniatures, egg art supplies, and advanced registration seminars and workshops. The theme for the annual egg show is “My Favorite Song.” The contest is open to exhibitors, dealers, and Eggs Original Club members. Visitors are encouraged to cast a vote for their favorite piece.

For those with a love of Pysanky, there also is The Annual Egg and Art Show at La Salle Academy in Shillington, March 23-24. A short drive from the Lehigh Valley, the 2013 show features egg artists who cut, paint, dye, and decorate egg shells of all sizes. There also will be live entertainment, homemade Polish foods, egg decorating suppliers, jewelry, pottery, arts and crafts, and children’s activities, including games and photos with the Easter Bunny. A $2 donation
is requested.

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